catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 20 :: 2004.12.03 — 2004.12.16


Given with love

Did you know that we could wipe out severe malnutrition, widespread
illiteracy, and preventable disease with $25 billion per year—the
amount that the US spends on lawn care*? What a cause for lament! We
care more about the look of our lawns than feeding the hungry,
preventing disease and teaching the illiterate to read. God have mercy
on us. It is fair to say that our hearts have become separated from the
things that break the heart of God. (Myself very much included! I
purchased a $14 tube of lipgloss with my birthday money instead of
contributing toward these causes.)

I recently spent some time at the Heifer Project International
Ranch in Arkansas. Heifer is a non-profit organization that since 1944
has worked to end hunger and poverty by giving struggling families the
gift of farm animals to provide them with ongoing food and income.
Through the gift of livestock, a family can obtain milk, eggs, wool and
other benefits to feed, clothe and educate their children. Each gift
multiplies, literally and figuratively, as each family that receives a
Heifer International animal promises to "pass on the gift" by giving
one or more of their animal's offspring to another family in need.

What amazed me about Heifer International is how refreshing their
model of gift giving is. They encourage others to underwrite these
animal gifts in honor of friend or family in lieu of gifts for
birthdays and holidays. Christmas, the most heavily marketed and
gift-giving holiday of the year, is just around the corner. I truly
love getting gifts and knowing that someone thought of me on birthdays
and during the holidays. I am wondering if I love receiving gifts more
than I love the poor, illiterate and sick. When I am honest with
myself, I know what the sad answer is. I might try to practice some
dying to self this holiday season. I might refrain from asking for new
books, CD's, and movies this Christmas. I might ask that people
underwrite gifts of animals as gifts to me instead in an effort to
redeem what has become, for me, an increasingly consumerist and
individualistic holiday.

There are a number of items that can be bought and given which not
only send the message of thoughtfulness this holiday season, but also
one of compassion for the world's poor. The following is a partial, and
by no means, exhaustive list. Enjoy!

  • Ten Thousand Villages sells fairly traded handicrafts from around the world. To find the location nearest you, go to their web site.


  • Equal Exchange Coffee
    is organically grown, fairly traded coffee provides a living wage for
    coffee farmers. It is sold in many stores as well as online.


  • Real Goods sells an endless list of products that help people conserve the earth?s resources.


  • Mary Kay, Aveda and The Body Shop
    are all cosmetic companies who refuse to test on animals, use no animal
    by-products, use mostly organic materials, and recyclable packaging.


  • Little Earth, a Pittsburgh-based company, creates cool products by using recycled and reused materials.


  • Small Businesses need our support more than ever in the age
    of corporate super stores. Support small business while you do your
    Christmas shopping this year!


*statistic from Heifer Project International, 2004.

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